. . . Because I don't have a license to express my views. What's that you say? I don't need a license to express myself? The Constitution guarantees my right to do so, thereby precluding the need for a license, and indeed, prohibiting the requirement for one?
But wait a minute–I was thinking that there was something else the Constitution guaranteed, some other fundamental human right. Something, in fact, that shall not be infringed–what could it be? Oh, yes–I think I have it. Something called the right to keep and bear arms–no, not bare arms, although I reserve the right to wear short sleeves when I want to.
But wait another minute–are there not myriad laws in this country that apply to the manufacture, sale, purchase, possession, storage, and bearing of arms? Do we not, as gun rights activists, call it a "victory" every time we manage to successfully persuade another state to allow us the privilege of paying for a license to bear arms (a rather conditional license, at that–subject to further restrictions)? Do we not pat ourselves on the back every time a state throws us a bone and loosens the restrictions on the exercise of this fundamental right?
It seems that we do all of those things, oddly enough. When you think about it, we have no room to complain about the civilian disarmament advocates' refusal to acknowledge our Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms, when we ourselves insist on treating it as a privilege. Some of us bemoan the Wayne Finchers of the world, for "making us look bad," by not being "law-abiding gun owners." Some of us criticize those who would carry a firearm illegally, for the same reason. Some of us opine that gun shops under siege by the BATFE "have nothing to worry about," if they follow the BATFE's rules (all of them, despite their self-contradictory and ever-changing nature).
I am, despite my disdain for the idea of going to the bureaucrats, hat in hand, hoping for the privilege of carrying the means to defend myself, involved (to the extent my extremely limited abilities allow) with the fight to bring concealed carry to Illinois (I can talk the talk, but I still don't want to go to jail–I'm a hypocrite, but at least I can admit it). In arguing for concealed carry laws, it is common to point out that concealed carry licensees can be counted on to be responsible citizens, because the people who would pose a threat to society are unlikely to jump through the regulatory hoops required for such a license. While no doubt true, that's an argument for which I have little affection. I reject the idea that any unit of government is justified in putting up such hoops in the first place. I reject the idea that my right to bear arms (whether concealed or not) is in any way contingent on my somehow demonstrating, in advance, that I will never use them improperly. I utterly reject, in the final analysis, the notion that a fundamental human right can be subject to licensing.
I'll continue to fight to make gun laws less strict, but I may never shake the nagging feeling that in doing so, I am granting legitimacy to the existence of any gun laws–in effect, assisting in my own oppression (and in everyone else's).
So I guess the blog will stick around after all, because that right is not subject to licensing . . . yet.